Once upon a time pondering Life’s biggest questions absolutely mesmerized me. When I returned home after living with a devout Hindu family in India as a foreign exchange student during high school, I was determined to become acquainted with the religious views and spiritual practices that had affected others. Not only did I read about them, I personally engaged with and experimented with them much to my family’s dismay. I eventually chose and successfully matriculated in religious studies earning my first undergraduate degree here at VCU. Shortly after this I turned to music studies, pursuing another undergraduate degree at VCU. Music-making became and remains my spiritual practice. I supported my daughter and myself by cobbling together income from teaching private lessons, playing a wide variety of gigs, adjunct teaching positions from the elementary to college level, as well as part time clerical jobs. My masters degree in flute performance from Georgia State University came later while my daughter was finishing her college studies. “Bricolage” can be defined as something created from a diverse range of available things and this aptly describes my artistic and scholarly journey which currently includes doctoral studies in the MATX program here at VCU.
The initial impetus for my entering the Media, Art, and Text program is rooted in my individual lived experiences or in feminist theoretical parlance – standpoint. The MATX program’s flexible structure has allowed me to pursue my specific interests and create multiple opportunities of focused, independent studies. The core classes of the program have introduced me to both the historical and theoretical world(s) of media and interdisciplinarity. Most if not all of my independent studies and electives have been gendered – themed. The MATX program has provided the space for me to generate a theoretical intervention regarding the historiography of women in music. I have judiciously researched feminist scholarship within musicology, music education (specifically professional identity formation), gender studies, religious studies, art history, and cultural studies.
Another aspect of my academic life here at VCU is the teaching of the two classes that I proposed and developed: “Women in Music” which is cross-listed as GSWS 491 – MHIS 491 and “Sacred Sound: Music in Religion”, MHIS 291. They are innovative examples of what interdisciplinary courses can bring to a traditional curriculum. These classes are also concrete expressions of theory and research to practice. The VCU students who have selected to enroll in these classes come from a disparate array of academic disciplines and their receptiveness to both the content and pedagogical methodology that I have implemented has surpassed my expectations again and again. One of my classroom goals is to facilitate a balance between my overt leading through lecturing and facilitating opportunities for students to engage with one another directly via collaborative presentations and group discussions. Each configuration of people is unique and hence the day to day unfolding of the semester remains a pleasant adventure.